The investment that fleets make in their vehicles is among the largest. And yet, many fleet managers face challenges when it comes to ensuring their vehicles receive regular maintenance. There are several reasons for this, with perhaps the biggest one being cost.
For the year 2022, the American Trucking Research Institute reported that operational costs of trucking reached a 15-year high of $2.251 per mile. Maintenance and repair costs were one of the main contributors to that figure. This causes a conundrum, because fleet managers want their trucks to have the longest possible lifespan. However, the cost of repairing these vehicles, combined with the potential downtime associated with repairs, can lead to profit losses that lower the possible return on their investment.
These cost and scheduling challenges tend to hurt small- to medium-sized fleets the most, as many may already face tight budgets and small profit margins. This is among the reasons why preventative maintenance sometimes falls to the backburner. However, we’ll explain below why regular maintenance is critical and how fleet maintenance software can make things easier and help fleet managers improve their financial health.
Ignoring Maintenance Leads to Extensive Repairs and Downtime
There are a number of reasons why fleets should schedule regular preventative maintenance for their trucks. For one, despite the aforementioned high costs and profit losses that can occur due to downtime, it’s more financially sound to schedule maintenance on a frequent basis.
Not every major repair is avoidable, but this preventative approach is one of the best ways to ensure that small problems don’t become big problems down the line. The more extensive the repair, the more expensive it will be. Not to mention, these big repairs will also lead to more downtime that might have been avoided with regularly scheduled maintenance. Downtime with any repair is to be expected, but more extensive repairs will inevitably take longer to complete.
Waiting to make repairs that can eventually pull your trucks off the road can actually throw a massive wrench into managers’ day-to-day operations if and when the repair becomes critical. Between re-allocating drivers and modifying transportation schedules for out-of-service trucks, it can also create a negative customer experience and even harm your company’s reputation.
Software Lowers Costs and Keeps Trucks on the Road
One of the primary benefits of dedicated software for fleet maintenance is that it helps fleet managers stay up to date on when their trucks and trailers require maintenance. Having software like ProTransport ensures that managers receive alerts when their vehicles have upcoming service appointments. This allows them to be proactive about truck maintenance, which will hopefully help minimize costly repairs and improve the longevity of their vehicles.
Another benefit of this software is that it allows managers to improve visibility and communication. This is very helpful when it comes to getting everybody on the same page regarding maintenance and how it impacts transportation schedules. Managers can stagger their repairs if needed, schedule repairs during slower times and prepare their drivers for upcoming maintenance, all to help ensure their fleets continue to operate with as many trucks on the road as possible.
Additional Risks of Foregoing Regular Maintenance
Higher maintenance costs in the future aren’t the only concern with non-regular maintenance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has clear standards and expectations for vehicle maintenance. Adhering to these rules is critical for ensuring the safety of drivers, their trucks and everyone on the road. Beyond safety, the financial impact of failing to remain compliant is significant and is much more costly to a fleet’s bottom line and reputation than it would be had their vehicles received regular maintenance.
Operational Costs Increase Without Regular Maintenance
Routine maintenance helps ensure your fleet’s vehicles are in the best possible condition. When your trucks are maintained better, they perform better. On the other hand, neglecting your equipment will eventually catch up in ways that may not seem obvious, but nonetheless add up.
Take your truck’s engine, for example. Failing to properly maintain your engine means that trucks must work harder to operate. This will eventually result in vehicles consuming more fuel, meaning that drivers will have to fill up on diesel more often. It’s a similar story with the other equipment required to operate a truck. If something isn’t working properly, the vehicle will have to work harder to compensate.
Software Reduces Operating Costs
Dedicated fleet maintenance software makes it easier to track the maintenance of your fleet as well as the performance of your truck and trailer. Beyond that, it can also track the performance, patterns and behaviors of your drivers. With all of this data at their disposal, fleet managers can optimize their company’s operations and make informed business decisions at every turn.